I recently returned from a hiking trip in Patagonia. (The picture on the blog is one I took on one of my hikes). The trip was wonderful in many ways and despite the miles of hiking, I came back relaxed and refreshed.
Part of the reason for my pleasure was I participated in a tour arranged by Backroads, and the guides we had were excellent. When thinking of what made the guides and tour so delightful, I realized that the guides, consciously or not, applied the rules of good leadership.
First, the purpose of our trip was clear. We were there to hike, see the spectacular views and learn about the area’s spectacular geology. The guides made it clear, it was our vacation and we should work as hard, but not harder, than we wanted.
Second, the trip was organized so we could easily reach the stated purpose. Each day we offered two or three hikes of varying difficulty but each offering stunning views and each with a guide to share what they knew about the landscape, the flora and the fauna.
The structure also allowed us to focus primarily on our stated purpose. The hotels, the restaurants and the transportation were all prearranged. We did not need to invest any emotional capital in making these decisions.
The guides also offered us encouragement and mentorship when needed. Here is how to use the hiking poles; try this approach when facing a steep incline. When we accomplished our goal--finished the day’s hike--the guides celebrated our accomplishments with us individually and with the group.
As we leaders have some quiet holiday times, it may be time to recommit to the good habits of leadership our guides modeled.
Be sure that the purpose of your work is clear and compelling
Arrange structures to make it easier for your team (or yourself) to accomplish your goals
Arrange structures to make it easy to focus on the goals and avoid spending time on less productive activities
Offer advice when someone needs it and offer praise when the goal is accomplished in a fine manner.